WWW.SHROUDEATER.COM - So what is a Shroudeater ?


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About our Name:

When we had to select a name for our site, we decided that we did not want the word "vampire" to be part of that name. For we wanted to have a name that would reflect the fact that we are going to be dealing with something different from the average contemporary vampire. We are not into the type of vampire that practically all of the other vampire sites seem to be about. Indeed, as you will find, we are into a completely different kind of vampire.

At the same time, we still wanted to have a name that had a connection with the subject of our studies: the traditional European Vampire. So we decided to adopt the name "Shroudeater". We were sad to find that - nowadays - most people seem completely unaware of the interesting phenomenon of corpses that are eating their own shrouds.

In the 17th and early 18th Century, however, those shroudeaters, and the deadly effect which their posthumous activity was said to have on the living, were the serious subject of heated discussions between theologians, philosophers and scientists.

It is a weird but fascinating superstition. The American vampirologist Paul Barber sums it up as follows: "... if any cloth touches the mouth of the corpse, the corpse is apt to begin to chew on it, thereby bringing about the death of the friends and relatives of the deceased through an agency that is never really explained."

This is what Martin Böhm did write in 1601: "We have seen in times of the plague how dead people - especially women - who have died of the plague make smacking noises in their graves, like a pig that is eating, and that while this smacking is going on the plague becomes much worse, usually in the same family, and people die one after the other."

It is in the year of 1679, in the town of Leipzig, that Philipp Rohr first publishes his study "Dissertatio Historico-Philosophica de Masticatione Mortuorum", in which he tries to find an explanation for the existence of these shroud eating corpses.

According to Michel Ranft's "De Masticatione mortuorum in tumulis", published in Leipzig in 1728, it is exclusively in times of plague that these corpses devour their own shrouds, noisily chewing on them. Their loud and uncivilised table manners have earned them the name "Schmatzenden Todten". They are said to grunt like pigs inside their graves. And while they are chewing away on their shrouds - through some mysterious kind of vampirism - their surviving relatives grow weaker and weaker until they die as well.

Obviously, these grunting chewing corpses, that do not even have to leave their grave to vampirise on their victims, are worlds apart from well-dressed gentlemen like Dracula or Lestat. Through fiction, "vampires" have evolved into something quite different, in which - apart from the name "vampire" - we find it very hard to recognise anything that even slightly resembles their old forefather, the original kind of vampire.

However, and that is lucky for us, the old "SHROUDEATER" does very much resemble the original European vampire which is going to be the main subject of this site. Both of them are corpses. Real corpses that are being accused of preying on the living. Vampire and Shroudeater are like brothers really. Reason enough for us to have adopted the Shroudeater for our domain name.

© 2008 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last update 10 October 2008
Photo "Grim Reaper" © 2000 by Rob Brautigam

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